This week has started, ended, and filled our days with talks of the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail (with the 78 paise decrease in petrol price putting in a peep).
When the announcement was made on November 25, 2011, my first reaction was excitement. I had spoken to Vasant Nangia of Fossil and he had mentioned about hearing the ‘good news’ from the brand once the Government allowed FDI in retail. Then I saw the protests – the shutters downed on several small retail stores along my beloved Brigade Road. Not integrating small retailers into the system has led to this discontent. Why does the system always serve up a raw deal to smaller players?
The greatest, also valid, concern is that the entry of foreign players will uproot the livelihood of many small retailers. Restricting the entry of small retailers to larger cities with a population greater than 10 lakh will fail to integrate them into the supply chain. It remains to be seen as to how the Government will get out of the knots with the opposing parties holding one end and unhappy retailers the other end.
The other shocker came in the form of granting of bail to several of the accused in the 2G scam. In fact, the news even stated that RK Chandolia was granted bail despite the CBI’s objections. There have been many innocents languishing in jails for years without even a trial, such as the illiterate worker Sheoraj Singh, who was arrested in place of his richer namesake. The abuse of position of power is clear in both the cases.
The sentiments of the public, which echo mine, are best described by this comment by one BN De Bhowmick – “With this kind of law enforcement agency in place, the law abiding aam admi like me does not feel safe anymore in this country.”
However, I see a ray of hope in at least one area – the Indian Readership Survey. The formation of the RSCI has given hope to the industry. Some industry experts made their observations on the discrepancies in the present version of the IRS and gave suggestions for a more comprehensive, far-reaching study in a correspondence with exchange4media. As Lynn de Souza said, “We are expecting the gold standard in readership studies from the RSCI”.